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American Supervision In Iraq Ahead Of UN Administration: Howard

March 28, 2003

This is the transcript of John Howard's interview with Larry King on CNN's "Larry King Live".

KING:

Mr Prime Minister, thank you very much for being with us, give us first your perspective as to how the war is going?

PRIME MINISTER:

Larry, I believe it's going very well. It's got to be remembered that this is a war in which unprecedented steps are being taken by the United States, Britain, Australia and other participants to minimise the impact on civilian populations. There's been a scrupulous regard for the interests of civilians, of the non-combatants, and people who perhaps were running around saying it should have been over by now, or should, in prospect, be over in a few days time, would have to pay some regard to the way in which it's being conducted and to recognise that it is being conducted by nations that do have a proper regard for human life and it's been fought against an opponent that has no regard for human life and they are factors that are affecting the way in which in the war is being conducted.

KING:

Mr Prime Minister, what's your reaction to the protestors in your country, you've been a staunch supporter of the Bush/Blair programme, right with them, but a lot of people in your country don't agree. Your reaction?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I accept that. Australia is a very robust democracy and I respect the right of people to disagree with the Government's decision, I have no doubt that we're taking the right decision. I've been a strong supporter of disarming Iraq for a long time and unfortunately the United Nations was not able to summon the sense of unity and courage to deal with the thing effectively and I have no doubt that there's a lot of support in Australia for what we're doing, public opinion has shifted quite a bit since we made our commitment, but in the end our stance has not driven by opinion polls, it's being driven by what we believe is right.

KING:

You were invited Mr Prime Minister to be at Camp David tonight with Mr Bush and Prime Minister Blair. You declined, why?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's not that I didn't want to talk to them, and as it happened we talked over the phone. But I felt that right at the moment the best thing for me to do was to be in Australia, bearing in mind that it only takes six and a half hours to go from London to Washington, it takes about 24 hours to go from Canberra to Washington and I took a raincheck on the invitation and I'll no doubt have the opportunity again of talking face to face. But we have had a lot of discussions, the President and I, and we have a very important commitment, we have special forces, we have a squadron of hornets, we have Naval personnel, mine clearance experts. For a country our size, our contribution is very significant and we are very committed to the objectives of the military campaign.

KING:

No causalities, but you have lost an, I understand, an Australian journalist, cameraman Paul Moran was killed by a car bomb. Is that correct?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, he was killed by a car bomb, and it's almost certainly the case that it was the work of a suicide bomber of an organisation associated with al-Qaeda that has, at the very least, been accommodated by elements of the Iraqi regime. But it was another demonstration of the wilful behaviour of international terrorists and how they target people without any regard for human life, including their own.

KING:

Mr Prime Minister, Mr Blair has brought this up, are you focusing a lot of attention on post-war Iraq?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we are, we believe that inevitably there must be an interim period of American supervised administration. We then see a greater role for the United Nations. But it has to be a role in our view that accepts the propriety of what is being done by the United States and Great Britain and Australia and others, it's got to be borne in mind that the countries that have made the commitment and bought about the disarmament of Iraq and most particularly but not only the United States has a right to express a strong view about the post-conflict arrangements, and to have that view respected. But all of us agree that the future belongs to the Iraqi people, I want the people of Iraq to be able choose the form of government that best suits them, I want their oil assets to be for their future benefit and I think they are views and aspirations that are shared in common by President Bush and by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

KING:

Mr Prime Minister, thank you for giving us this time and congratulations I understand are in order, you did win the world cricket championship.

PRIME MINISTER:

We did indeed and we're very happy about it.

Thank you.

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